The Oakland Raiders offensive line suffered a crucial blow with Gabe Jackson expected to miss the next two months after suffering a knee injury during the team’s joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams.
Jackson’s absence undoubtedly leaves a rather notable void in Derek Carr’s protection for the start of the 2019 NFL season. The Raiders are hoping their current depth can potentially serve as a temporary solution until all their pieces are able to rejoin the team.
Denver Kirkland filled in as Jackson’s replacement in the preseason opener versus the Rams. Regardless, it appears he will not be their first option at guard moving forward.
According to Jerry McDonald of The Mercury News, head coach Jon Gruden indicated that Jordan Devey will have the first chance at holding down the fort for Jackson:
“We need somebody to take control of that right guard position while Gabe is out,” Gruden said. “Jordan Devey is going to get the first crack at it and rightfully so. He’s a veteran player, he’s been around the league, but Kirkland is going to bring something to the position as well.”
Devey started at center in place of Rodney Hudson during the Raiders’ 14-3 win over the Rams. His skill set as an interior lineman should allow the Raiders some flexibility moving forward as they continue to look for further solutions.
Oakland already faced plenty of questions regarding their depth at guard throughout the offseason, despite their efforts to shore up the position. Although the signing of Richie Incognito was a key one for the offensive line, the team has been forced to make preparations by grooming Jonathan Cooper to fill in at left guard while he serves his two-game suspension to start the year.
If Cooper manages to perform well in Incognito’s absence, it would certainly make plenty of sense for Gruden to toy with the idea of moving him over to the right side of the line should Devey and Kirkland fail to get the job done. Either way, the Raiders will seemingly have to make do with the players at their disposal if they hope to follow through on their high hopes for a potential resurgence in 2019.
The prospect of Carr having to go the first few weeks of the season without all of his starting blockers certainly raises plenty of concerns regarding both his health and the overall state of the offense. To make matters worse, they will be kicking things off with back-to-back AFC West matchups against the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.